Umba, the Nigerian digital bank Raises $15 million to scale its operations

Nigeria is becoming a home of the fin-techs, mobile and digital banking region of the African continent. Every week if not every day there’s a launch of a fin-tech platform to challenge and compete with the traditional banks. 

The Lagos based digital bank platform, Umba bank has raised $15 million in Series A funding. The new development comes after the company raised $2 million in a seed round two years ago. 

Unlike other banks, Umba focuses on underserved and the unbanked market to offer their unique banking products, which make up 43% of the region’s general population. The company was co-founded by the bank’s current CEO Tiernan Kennedy and Barry O’Mahony, who happens to be the chief financial officer of the bank.

Kennedy said, “I’d like to think that we’re the cheapest in the market. The reason is we’re collecting data, making automated underwriting and retraining models every month based on customer performance to deliver credit in seconds.” 

According to both co-founders of the Umba bank, Nubank is one of the major investors in the startup banking platform, explained Kennedy while speaking to TechCrunch publication. 

“The Nubank guys saw what we’re doing and recognised it is the right model for emerging markets. Credit is the hardest problem to solve and underwriting customers at scale in multiple markets is challenging. It took us 18 months to build that. But now it’s up and running and performing.” 

“Typically, like a legacy bank, some startups will buy off-the-shelf banking systems and customise them for their customers. But they’re not thinking about the customer first. For us, we designed core banking systems from the ground up and can deliver a customised experience for the customer at the drop of a hat in both banking and mobile money markets,” said co-founder and chief executive.

“We can take in all that open banking data and underwrite at scale with these different fragmented payment types and data types. What that means for us, in practice, is that we’re multi-currency, we can go multi-country, we can do all different payment types. And that takes time. But then when you get your ability to move extremely fast against competitors,” adds Kennedy. 

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